From the Foreword of the book:
How Deep Is Drowning? A poetic commentary on the challenges facing a mosaic America (© 2018 Pencil Me In Publications, LLC)
by Timid Masses
The “American Dream”, what good is a dream that only comes true for a select few? Are our expectations exceeding reality when it comes to defining success? For many the American Dream has remained a constant striving since the initial coining of the phrase by James Truslow Adams in his 1931 book The Epic of America. Years removed from 1931, and we find the American Dream still on the endangered species list. How can such an endearing thought be subject to the risk of extinction for so long?
Growing up in a humble home, the sixth child of a janitor and bus driver, I lived side by side with the struggle of middle-class America seeing it from the bottom rung looking upward. From this perspective I learned that though ability and achievement are key ingredients for success, when other key ingredients are missing, such as opportunity, the American dream becomes in the words of the late great Langston Hughes, “A dream deferred.”
America’s many avenues of opportunity are littered with abandoned dreams left behind by weary travelers who were striving toward their destinations of betterment, when the light of optimism flickered out and left them stranded along the highway of hope.
As our great nation continues to struggle with harmonizing the values and beliefs of our citizenry, to overcome the morale bankruptcy brought on by social injustice and inequality; fear, uncertainty, and disenfranchisement ripple through the dream of harmonious coexistence and independence, transforming it into a nightmare of individual survival.
The pursuit of success, under constantly changing terms, has driven us further from charity and benevolence and closer to isolationism and selfishness. Success has been redefined as a material gain versus an intrinsic affirmation, and failure to accumulate material wealth results in being branded a permanent failure.
These are the socio-economic complexities we drown in everyday. As we gulp for air and seek respite from the burdens of a changing landscape, which has furthered the distance between the “haves” and “have nots”, we are saddened by the removal of stairwells and elevators linked to middle class mobility. Signs long removed from blocked entry points, that once read “White only”, have now been replaced with new signs that hang above the entry way reading, “Invitation only! Strictly enforced!”
The good news is we can still swim to the shores of sensibility if we restore the value once placed on life and unity, and diminish the reign of material excess. The seas are raging, and the swells of injustice, indifference, and incivility continue to make staying afloat challenging. When treading in the deep waters of uncertainty the urgent question to ask is, “How long can we stay afloat, if never taught how to swim?”